About two weeks ago now, I found myself unexpectedly in tears. I hadn’t quite realized, but I was standing on a Communion line behind Thomas Peters. Thomas is a young man who has worked at the National Organization for Marriage and written on occasion for National Review Online. One morning, shortly after the Supreme Court rulings on marriage this spring, someone came into my office to ask and announce: Do you know Thomas Peters? He’s excellent! She had just heard him on NPR debating what often can feel like a losing issue in mainstream media.
Not long after getting married, Thomas was in a diving accident that reminds me a lot of the story Charles Krauthammer recently told Bret Baier about the accident that paralyzed him. When I first heard about it from mutual friends, it sounded grim. Just recently though, after a lot of work, and not a few prayers, he was released from hospitalization and rehabilitation facility.
I don’t pretend to know every step along the way, but I knew, unexpectedly standing behind Thomas the other day that I was in the presence of the scene of a miracle — he embodies the power of prayer, the reality of the supernatural; he and his wife are a testament to faith. Good doctors, of course, play no small role in his being alive and improving, but the hope and gratitude he and Natalie demonstrate is rooted in something eternal.
I tell you all this because it’s inspiring, but also because today his friends are using social media today — #IStandWithThomasPeters Day — to help raise money for some of the funds Thomas and Natalie Peters need for the unexpected bills they face. You can find information on the campaign here.
Thomas recently reflected:
The accident has taught me that I am a work still in progress and anything I do achieve is for God’s glory. I completed my term of inpatient rehabilitation this week and the hard work of learning to live on my own again (with the tremendous help of my wife) has just begun, as has grueling outpatient therapy to regain more of the strength and muscle systems I have lost. The vast, vast majority of individuals with my injury never walk again, but there remain signs that I could beat these long odds, and I have been praying to St. Jude for such a miracle. The majority of individuals with an injury like mine never regain the use of their hands – I have had to write these reflections using a knuckle of my right pinky on a touchscreen, if you can believe it. But through the intercession of St. Francis, I am recovering some finger function in my left hand. There are troubling signs that my life will forever be plagued with neuropathic pain, but as I have learned, pain can be offered up and need not inhibit living a good and worthy life.
In the coming months, I will be focusing on prayer, reflection and recovery, then we will know more about what the future holds. I don’t quite remember how it began, but during one of the many sleepless nights spent in the Baltimore ICU, unsure of what that night and the next day would hold, I was inspired by the example of Samuel in the Old Testament, and began quietly saying to God, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” This remains my prayer. I do not know what the future holds. But I do know that as long as I have breadth, and with whatever limbs and muscles I can move, I will strive to serve the Lord and do His will. What else is a life for?
I am reminded of the prayer from Cardinal Mercier:
O Holy Spirit, spouse of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.
Amen. Thanks be to God for people looking out for one another, helping out brothers and sisters working to accept what is permitted, for His greater glory.